The New York Giants lost their 2020 season opener to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, 26-16, in a game that was much closer than the score indicates.
Joe Judge’s debut as head coach was as good as advertised. His team fought hard and played together. There was spirit and camaraderie abound but there was also remnants of the Giants from the past several dismal seasons.
“I’ll just tell you right now that I’m proud of how this team fought for 60 minutes,” Judge told reporters after the game. “That’s something I really wanted to see – you guys asked me earlier in the week what I wanted to see from this team, I wanted to see a team that played together for 60 minutes and fought regardless of score, circumstance or situation, and I saw that. I’m proud of how our guys played. Now, obviously there are some things that we have to do to clean up. The mark of a good team is improvement you can make moving on from Week 1. This next week we’ve got a big test, but we’ve got to stop with the turnovers, we’ve got to eliminate the unnecessary penalties, we have to do better at the end of the half, we have to finish ourselves in the red area, so those are the big things that stuck out right there.”
The things the Giants have to clean up aren’t going to be easy. There was the play of the offensive line, which at times was completely embarrassed by the Steelers’ front seven and beyond. The running game was nonexistent as star running back Saquon Barkley could barely find an inch to run. In fact, he lost yards on most of his carries, gaining just six yards in 15 attempts on the ground.
Then there was the play of second-year quarterback Daniel Jones, who once again showed signs of brilliance only to undo his good deeds with senseless turnovers. Jones, who led the NFL in lost fumbles in 2019 as a rookie, did not fumble in this game but his two interceptions led to nine Pittsburgh points as well as taking a possible seven points away from the Giants.
In the second quarter, Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt stepped back and intercepted a pass at the line of scrimmage after reading Jones’ eyes. Great play by Watt to reel the ball in but Jones made it easy on him.
In the third quarter, with the score 16-10 in favor of Pittsburgh, Jones led the Giants on an 18-play, 87-yard, eight minute and 50 second drive down to the Steelers’ four. On the 19th play, Jones took the snap, rolled out left and this is what happened….
A Steelers (-6) bettors gift 🎁
The worst play ever by Daniel Jones
— SportsLine (@SportsLine) September 15, 2020
Judge took it easy on Jones after the game in media. After all, Jones had to put up with a Steelers’ rush that went uncontested too many times on the evening.
“I like the way he played aggressive. He stood in the pocket – it was obviously a strong rush coming at him all night – he played confident in there, he stood in there as long as he could, he delivered some good, accurate passes for us,” said Judge. “He had two throws I know he wants back down at the goal line, that’s something we can’t have happen. Look, I’ll talk to Daniel a little bit more about it, I’ll watch the tape and make sure we clean up everything involved. That’s definitely something you can’t have, 19-play drive and come away with no points, especially down there in the low red. That’s not acceptable, but I’m proud of the way he played aggressive, I’m proud of the way this team stuck together.”
Let’s hope the Giants make that Week 2 when they head to Chicago to play the Bears next week. It won’t happen if they keep giving points away.